Do you hate change? I do. I like being able to rely on the aisles at Walmart being the same every time I go so that I can find stuff I need. Like last night, I went back to the electronics department to look for a WiFi usb stick for my wife. I used to know where to look. It took me longer this time because they had completely CHANGED the department. I was annoyed. I had to ask a sales associate where to find it. I knew where it was supposed to be, but they had changed. Not so with Jesus. If you are looking for peace or hope of grace today. You can still find it, because it is right where you will be looking for it, in Jesus Christ. He never changes.
Where does natural human curiosity come from? It seems that everyone has this yearning for the infinite, a wonder that reaches beyond their five senses into the what if? It is a lack of contentment with all that we are because we feel a great pit within us waiting to be filled with something. We try to fill it with many things, money, power, relationships, but nothing fits. Nothing is big enough.
Ancient cultures tried to fill it with inventions of gods and goddesses, trying to explain a much bigger picture of the world around them, but those were all corruptions. Few remembered the beginning. There were some that did, but they seemed reluctant to share with Gentiles. It wasn’t until someone they raised and taught, a perfect child so they thought, who would declare that His message was for all. So they fought, arrested, and killed Him. But He was too good to die, and didn’t stay that way. He rose from the dead and declared to all when he said, God has sent His Son into the world to die so that they might live.
That great yearning for eternity can only and should only be filled by the grace, mercy and love that come through Jesus Christ. Come and be filled.
Christ arose! He arose! Hallelujah Christ Arose! Let us shout it from the mountain tops and proclaim it to the nations. Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the Son of God. He is the Messiah! And He’s Alive! So that the world may know Jesus is Lord!
But there is wrongness to the world. We see it in the various symptoms: abuse of illicit and prescription drugs, the sexualization of children whose definition gets younger every day, deficit spending at all levels, from personal to federal, an irrational selfishness in adults, single and married, parents and children, and even a redefinition of traditions and social foundations (marriage, lifestyle, gender).
In all of this there is a lostness, an ever-further seeking of happiness and contentment, which refuses to be satisfied; lust for power, lust for sex, lust for possessions. It is a lust whose goal is elusive, for man was not built to be satisfied with the things of this world. No amount of depravity or perversity will ever be enough. For in man’s heart is an immortal soul. “God has set eternity in the hearts of men.” (Eccl. 3:11) Therefore only the means of God can fill it, and give man the endless joy he craves.
“Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14) When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, she had tried marriage. She was trying living together. She still wasn’t satisfied. Not until she met Jesus, for in Jesus she found joy. In Him, she found fulfillment.
As a nation, our problems are grave. The question is becoming “How do we manage its loss?”, rather than “How do we save it?” As His Church, we bear some responsibility, for the church has been silent. But we don’t have to be silent any more. This news, this greatest news of all time, is not ours to keep to ourselves. There are millions of people, just like the Samaritan woman, who hunger for fulfillment and finding nothing. They are trying everything but the one things, the one person who can truly satisfy them. His name is Jesus. He is alive today, because He is Risen! Because He is alive, He can be known. Because He is resurrected, He can also hear you, fill you, and abide with you.
Jesus Knows Why
Are you ever content with what you know about Jesus? Do you ever say, “I know enough”? Don’t. A mind closed to a deeper relationship to Jesus is a mind closed off to Jesus. Never be content, because knowing Jesus is one thing He tells us to pursue, to be greedy for, to never be satisfied with. For there is always more of Jesus to know and learn.
It’s time to save the world again! With all the superhero movies in theaters, it makes me think that Hollywood is looking for a Savior.
It shouldn’t surprise us that somewhere in us, we are always looking for a Savior, someone who will go to bat for us, defend us, and deliver us. It sounds like the people of Israel in 1 Samuel, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” (1Sa 8:19-20) Throngs will attend the massive cineplexes to find a savior on Friday night, and never think to look at their local church on Sunday morning.
Then I began to wonder about the superheroes of the Bible, you know, men of great strength like Samson, or great speed like Elijah. It reminds me of those who faced great challenges, like Noah, who was charged with building the first boat, for the first flood, to save all animals, and all mankind from the end of the world. Sounds like a super hero job to me.
But all of these heroes were ordinary men and women like you and me. What happened to them to change them to heroes? The answer lies in Hebrews 11:1, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets”. Every single one of these ordinary people were dramatically changed by the voice of God. But there is one hero who outmatches them all.
Still looking for a Savior?
Everyone has a favorite hero, and I think there’s a lot to be said for the comparison of our modern superheroes and the pantheon of gods and goddesses of the ancient world. For every Superman today, there was a Zeus in the days of the Bible. For every Thor, there was a Baal. People then worshipped these superheroes as gods, with real control over their destinies. Sadly, just like modern superheroes, these ancient heroes had a problem. They could not be everywhere at once. They were godlike in their powers, but they could never be God, because they couldn’t be here and there at the same time.
In Superman II, the world is in need of Superman, because the arch-villains of Krypton have made their way to earth. But Superman was occupied with Lois Lane in the fortress of solitude, and didn’t know the earth was in trouble. He couldn’t save the world until after many lives were lost.
In 1 Kings 17, Elijah challenges the priests of Baal. They work and worship in vain to get Baal to light the offering on the altar. Elijah mocks them suggesting that Baal is away on vacation, or perhaps indisposed, unaware of their plight. But Elijah’s God, the God of Israel is always near. “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7) In no time, God lit the altar of Israel, and proved once again that He is God, and there is no other.
Listen to what he says in Isaiah: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isa 45:22)There are many heroes, and many superheroes that may call for attention, devotion, even worship, but only one God. The people of the ancient world had a tough time figuring this out. What about you?
Who your superhero?
For Christians, Easter is the high point on the Church calendar. It’s THE day when most people, if they ever go to church, is the day they go. Easter is unique. For many people, Easter marks the beginning of Spring, and a shaking off of winter. It is a sign of new beginnings, and promises of warmth and weather are made. Flowers come up around Easter. They adorn our Easter cross, and complex symbol both of the shape of Christ’s death, but the beauty of its significance for us as Christians. Easter means many things to many different people. For me, Easter was making the trip when I was a kid to my great uncle John’s house, the annual Easter Egg Hunt, and finding that one chocolate egg that everyone else missed, because it was colored green.
But Easter is also a culmination of some folk’s religious obligation. What began Thanksgiving the year before, went through Christmas, and through St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Lent, and Annunciation Day, now culminates at Easter. For some it is the end of religious obligation for another year, and now warm weather, spring break, summer vacation, ball games and NO SCHOOL are just around the corner. Even for dedicated Christians, Easter is an ending of sorts. We saw Jesus born and we saw him die, and rise again. Many churches choose to emphasize Jesus’ life during this time as teaching naturally flows from Christmas to Easter. Once Easter comes, it’s time to focus on other subjects. We tend to lose Jesus at Easter, only to pick Him back up again next Christmas.
What is Jesus now? We proclaim Him, praise Him, and extol the virtues of His life on earth, but didn’t Jesus rise from the dead? What is He up to? Does the Bible tell us about it? Though Jesus’ sacrifice for sin was once for all paid at the cross, His resurrection celebrated every Sunday, do we know what Jesus is doing today?
This same Jesus whom we celebrate on Resurrection Sunday is still alive and active today. He isn’t just to be found in the covers of the Bible, but He is the Living Lord! That means that Jesus is alive right now. He lives in Heaven with the Father, but He has been known to make the occasional appearance. Right now, He dwells at the right hand of the Father, but also in you. He mediates for us before the Father night and day as our Great High Priest and Advocate. He also dwells in the midst of the Churches as the Son of the Most High, our Head and Ruler.
Jesus’ work didn’t stop when He rose in the clouds. Let’s take time to find out what He’s doing today!
King Jesus has all authority on heaven and earth, and sends us out to do His work.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus, Our Great High Priest is our advocate before the Father, defending us before the judgment our sins deserve against our adversary, the Devil
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
Jesus, the Great Prophet who sees all of this as the First and the Last is just as alive today as He was then.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
Being a Christian isn’t about attending church, or making sure your pew is filled on special days. Being a Christian calls for a daily taking up the cross and following Him. Don’t let your discipleship be defined by tick marks in a roll call but by treasures gathered in heaven.
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
Though the wife and I married in April, our first plan was to marry in December. We made this decision at the end of the year. We had imagined another full year of preparation and planning, but then we came to our senses and realized 12 months was 8 months too long. As it is, I’ve always wondered about the connection between Christmas and weddings.
There is a sense of gift-giving in the marriage ceremony. The father of the bride gives her away to her groom. The bride and groom make promises to “have and to hold from this day forward.” The reception too involves a great many gifts and well-wishes for the bride and groom. In the marriage, the bride and groom, ideally, give of themselves completely for the mutual encouragement and companionship of the other. It isn’t so much a partnership but a sacrificial gift of each to the other. Each gives of himself or herself wholly to the other.
That’s why as we turn to the Christmas season, I remind you of the old adage, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” God promised centuries ago that One promised “from the foundation of the world” would one day come to shepherd his people Israel. “Something blue” reflects Joseph, who struggles with questions of love and justice for his bride to be. “Something borrowed” refers to Mary’s womb, which she willingly offered to the Lord as His servant. But all of this leads to “something new”, something no one had ever seen, the foundation of our faith.
God had divorced ancient Israel for all her abominations and idolatries. When we go through her kings, we discover a gradual slide to her exile and punishment. He had written a bill of divorcement so she would be no longer called “my people.” He extends his hand through His Son Jesus Christ to the bride of Christ. Why did Jesus come, to preach, heal others and die? That was just the beginning. All of this was so that His bride might be born (Ephesians 5:25-27) and made ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9) and the consummation of the ages at the last time, and He receives us unto Himself. Will you be ready when He is revealed, and we see Him as He is, when our veil lifted?